March 22, 2018 / 12:44 PM / a month ago

Manchester City owners keen to expand stable of soccer clubs

(Reuters) - City Football Group, which owns Premier League leaders Manchester City, is looking to add to its stable of soccer clubs and is especially keen on acquisitions in China, according to its chief commercial officer, Tom Glick.

FILE PHOTO: General Sport - United City Global Sports Summit - Manchester - 20/11/13 Tom Glick Chief Commercial and Operating Officer of Manchester City speaks during the summit Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Paul Currie Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Manchester City is one of several clubs owned by the group, a holding company in which Abu Dhabi United Group owns an 87 percent stake with the remaining 13 percent held by the China Media Capital consortium.

In addition to Manchester City, the group owns MLS franchise New York City, Australian side Melbourne City, Uruguay’s Club Atletico Torque, a joint majority stake in Spanish club Girona and a minority stake in Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos.

“I think it’s very likely we’ll do some more (acquisitions) and we’re looking at a number of places across the globe,” Glick told CNBC in an interview aired on Thursday.

“There are a number of very interesting markets and healthy leagues with great upsides so we’re looking at a number of places, including places in Asia.”

While praising the game’s potential for growth in Japan, South Korea and India, Glick said the health of football in China, along with the government’s backing for the game, made it an especially attractive destination for investors.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, an avid soccer fan, has launched an ambitious drive to improve Chinese football from the ground up and spoken of his desire for the country to qualify for another World Cup, host the tournament and eventually win it.

China has invested heavily in the sport in recent years, boosting its domestic league by signing a number of high-profile, international players and coaches.

“There’s a huge push and an ambition from the government,” Glick added.

“The league is already a very healthy league with good attendances, good television viewership, so I think it’s a really exciting time right now for China and that’s one of the markets that we’re there on the ground, investing.”

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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